Home Depot and Lowe's are the settings for U.S. skills transfer on a massive scale. Their tutorials in basics - from how to caulk, cut a miter, or install wood moulding and which handtools to use - are a commentary in how far we've fallen as a people who use tools.
In our schools, unfortunately, budget pressures and government mandates have sliced away at support for woodworking and other shop and crafts classes, along with sports and the arts. Woodworking is a fundamental educational strategy - it teaches manual dexterity, develops hand-eye coordination, and uses safe, low-cost materials that get kids focussed, and teaches patience, perserverance and precision - skills that will even pay off in fields like accounting, programming and research.
Home Depot in-store displays, and their floor workers, are providing tutorials on-the-fly to homeovers and other consumers, notes Louis Uchitelle in a great essay, "The Nation That's Losing Its Toolbox," today in the New York Times. (You might have to be a subscriber to read it.)
A hopeful note is being struck in educational initiatives within the woodworking industry, including efforts to support WoodLINKS USA projects at the International Woodworking Fair next month, and renewed support behind the Woodwork Career Alliance.
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